Through trials and tribulation, Cathryn Costello brings Fargo its newest Pilates studio!
Developed in the 1920s, Pilates is one of the most widely practiced physical disciplines in the world. Its creation was part of an attempt to alleviate ill health through exercising. Similar to yoga, Pilates develops strength, fitness and flexibility. However, what differentiates Pilates is that it has a heightened focus on core strength. Furthering this mission of stabilization in Fargo is Cathryn Costello, who aims to connect people with their bodies and help them understand how to move safely.
Cathryn Costello has been finding new ways to move her body since she was a child. At the age of five, she started dancing in Seattle, WA. Just a few short years later, at the age of eight, she was getting paid for her dancing—something she continued to pursue professionally throughout her formative years and into adulthood.
“I knew that’s what I wanted to do very young because I was around adults who were doing it,” Costello said.
By the time she was 17, she was only going to “regular school” part-time as she was devoting the majority of her day to dance. She continued to dance through her school years, and then at the age of 20, she moved to New York City—a professional dancer’s dream. She landed a job with the Mark Morris Dance Group.
Did you know?
The Mark Morris Dance Group has received outstanding praise from world-famous cellist Yo-Yo Ma!
“It was everything I was prepared for it to be, and it was hard. It was grueling. People talk about hustle now, but those were 18-hour days and you couldn’t hold a steady job because you had to go to class, which you had to pay for all yourself, you had to go to rehearsals, and you had to be available for performances,” she recalled. “You have no life.”
Did you know?
Joseph Pilates developed his exercise techniques and methods while being held in an internment camp during World War I.
Setbacks Lead to Pilates
In the dance industry, it is quite common for people to get injured. Costello was no exception. Because she did not have a “typical” dancer’s body, she often had to work extra hard to do the moves that other dancers could do more naturally.
“I had to do a lot of contortions to make the pretty pictures look the same and I think I really taxed myself with that. But, you do what you have to do to get the job done.”
Due to this strain on her body, as well as having to wear pointe shoes, Costello ended up developing Achilles tendonitis at just 15 years old.
“I had to stop dancing because of it for about three months which is detrimental at that caliber of dancing, it’s way too long,” Costello explained.
When she was out with tendonitis, she found out that one of her friend’s mom was training to be a Pilates teacher and needed someone to practice with. She started taking free lessons, sparking her initial interest in Pilates.
“We did private lessons on the reformer machine when I was 15, and I just fell in love. Nothing felt like it and it was so good for cross-training for dance. I spent about six months doing this and when I came back to dance, my instructors told me I had fixed most of the problems that they were going to have me work on,” Costello said.
It wasn’t until around 15 years later that she considered becoming a Pilates instructor herself.
Trying to make a living through dance in New York City, the most expensive city in the country, is not easy. For Costello, this was no exception.
“I hit a point where I had no days off and I wasn’t making any money and I had an injury. I had no quality of life,” she said.
Luckily, her roommate was able to help her line up a job that paid enough to increase her quality of life.
“My roommate was a personal assistant to a rich couple that lived in New York City and the husband started a new job and needed an assistant. So, she hooked me up. I started working for him, but the company ended up hiring me. Eventually, I worked my way up through the company and by the end, I did everything but programming,” Costello explained.
Did you know?
The original Pilates machine was referred to as the “magic circle.”
She was thriving at Redshift Technologies Inc. However, she wasn’t happy there.
“I hated it, but it paid really well. Well enough that I could live by myself in New York City which was a big deal,” she said.
Then, on a ski trip with her family, Costello’s life trajectory changed. She ruptured her ACL.
Did you know?
Women are anywhere from two to ten times more likely to injure their ACL than men.
“I knew it right away when it happened. They had to bundle me up to ski me down the mountain because I was so high up. And as they were skiing me down, I could only see the trees going by and the beautiful gorgeous sky, and I thought, ‘This is better than any day at the office. Shit, I should get a different job.'”
Of course, after her accident, she rehabbed with Pilates.
“And I’ve never had any issues since then,” she added. “I really love teaching people how to move their bodies in a new, safe way. That means being very clear about where your body should be in space and what you should be feeling. I love giving them that information because, once you get that down, you can do anything.”
After her revelation, she began working as a Pilates instructor so she could return to school to become a physical therapist. Costello knew she wanted to help people, so she started her journey by taking her prerequisites at NDSCS. Then, she started having children, and progress on the degree slowed—though she still took time to do Pilates. She even opened her first Pilates studio, Precision Pilates Studio, in Wahpeton during this time.
In 2017, tragedy struck when Cathryn’s husband died in a plane crash; she was suddenly a single parent to two young children, running a small business and had to figure out how to take care of everything—including herself—on her own.
The idea for theStudio was hatched after she spent the next several years reaching out for the support she needed for her health; mentally, physically and spiritually. When COVID hit she closed her Wahpeton studio, and decided to focus on creating her dream, theStudio. theStudio, which opened in 2022, blends Pilates and physical therapy principles like they often do with physiotherapy in places like Canada.
“The way I see it, Pilates is the missing step between Physical Therapy and going back to your normal exercise routine, except I don’t have to deal with insurance and I have so much more time with my clients,” she added.
Her hope is to reach as many people as possible by making Pilates accessible for people of all levels of athletic ability.
“This is pretty accessible for anybody. The biggest barrier is getting up the stairs to the studio,” Costello laughed.
Did you know?
Studies show that more than 50 percent of all dancers are injured each year.
Dreaming of the Future
Costello doesn’t want to stop at only offering Pilates, though. Her ultimate goal is to be able to offer a whole wellness collective through theStudio.
“You would come to theStudio and you [would] get a massage, your acupuncture, your workout, your infrared sauna and your chiropractor in a one-stop shop. I can only fix one part of you, but you’re a whole being, and you have so many other things going on. What’s happening with your sleep and your nutrition, it all is wrapped up in that,” Costello explained. As part of her long-term plan, theStudio would offer a way for all of your wellness team to consult with one another. “We need a place where we can sit down at a table, all the practitioners, and talk to each other and say, ‘this is what I see going on with so-and-so. What do you see?’ ‘When I was doing acupuncture, I noticed that this was happening.’ What do we do about that? And how do we help you?” she said.
Costello believes that with the community’s support, she can make her dream of helping people holistically a reality.
Cathryn Costello’s dream of turning theStudio into a wellness collective is already becoming a reality by providing an in-house massage therapist, wellness and nutritional coaching, personal training and ongoing classes and workshops.
Learn more about Cathryn Costello’s Pilates studio, theStudio: